Ela Teague shares her personal experience of pivoting her cookery business from in-person to online and provides her tips for knowing if it’s right for you.
Covid times have given us many new terms in business, and to ‘pivot’ a business is definitely one of these. However, as I write this I think about how I began to pivot even early on in the pandemic.
I started Cook Eat Joy Cookery School in Sept 2019 and my sole focus was to give people the skills and know-how to reproduce Indian meals at home, bringing my cultural background and family tips and tricks to those who want to develop their cooking skills.
I had a clear vision of how I wanted to deliver classes – either at my own home or at the homes of my clients. This model worked well, and within a few months I had a number of clients making bookings and even referrals to friends and family. The face-to-face classes were coming on so well that in February I took on a large class of 12 people at a local café, which was amazing. I was all geared up for one event like this a month and then, it happened – LOCKDOWN.
I had been riding high with so many classes and events booked up, and then… nothing. Like so many people in business, I was in shock. I was completely dumbfounded and unable to think about what I could or should do. It was tough, I needed time to think this through and for the first week I just sat and gave myself some time.
Then I struck gold – MNC! To be specific Kate Henwood’s 28-Day Challenge. I had been so busy since I started my business that although I had been meaning to set up my website I just hadn’t made time for it. Lockdown gave me the time and the 28 Day Challenge gave me support, advice, confidence and accountability – all the things I needed at that time. By April I had published my website. I now had a window to my business, however I still had no idea how to move forward.
It was scary to think I may have to change completely what I had been doing, but I knew I could do something. I spent the next few months taking time to research, network and build relationships as well as home school and parent! Again, I gave myself time to come to a conclusion as to how to move forward.
Pivoting the business
Face-to-face cooking classes are my thing, but in a Covid world, I needed to bite the bullet and step out of my comfort zone to try something new. Online classes were a natural pivot. I had some many excuses lined up, kitchen space, technical issues, my children. But I love teaching and talking to people about food and so in September I launched my online classes.
Obviously it hasn’t been plain sailing, there has been some trial and error but so far the feedback has been positive. I have even seen the advantages of not being geographically fixed with clients in Manchester, South London and one lined up for Philidelphia!
This gave me the confidence to test out a local takeaway. It started very small with people I knew well who were happy to pay for my food and give me some honest feedback. As my confidence grew with the positive feedback I decided to launch the local takeaway as another service the business was providing and so far, three weeks in at time of writing, it has been truly fulfilling. The joy I get from cooking and feeding people has spurred me on further.
So, pivot or not?
I was reticent at first, and perhaps slow to get started, because I needed to do my research to ensure I had a market. But I don’t regret pivoting my business into this new phase. I’m still finding happiness in my job and that has come from feedback and relationships I have built up. The ‘wow’ moments I get each week fill me with the confidence to keep going.
Once we can return to some form of normality I can see myself continuing along this path too – another spice to add to the pot!
If you’re considering pivoting your business, here’s my five top tips: